Not all artifacts are created equal. Some I picked every time, and some I avoided. This guide contains my ranking of the relics along with notes on each one.
This guide uses six tiers. These are:
- S – Best, when I can select a starting relic, I consistently choose one of these.
- A – Excellent, consistently useful for any party.
- B – Good, often useful, but may depend on party.
- C – Acceptable, sometimes helpful, other times ineffective.
- D – Poor, there are always better choices.
- E – Terrible, just short of harming your team.
When carrying a Wind Chime (re-roll relics and add two options), if the initial choice of three relics are all C-E then I will almost always use the chime to re-roll.
On some of the longer runs you can end with 7+ relics. With this many it does not matter if even 3 are C-tier or lower. So sticking to the highest tiers is not essential.
One of my most memorable runs was built around Bomb Spore (C-tier) as my first relic. So I am convinced that all the relics can be effective when used well. But some are more likely to be useful (regardless of the way you have built your party).
|Invincible & immune to debuffs on turn one
|This lasts until the start of your second turn. Having a full turn to attack without consequences is a significant advantage. Some battles I charged and defeated all the enemies with retaliation – zero damage, one full turn.
|Extra move for all characters makes it much easier to get the charge on your foes, or to redeploy during combat. Very useful when playing Bronion as some of their characters have only 2 move, which is very restrictive.
|Ignore terrain when moving
|You can move over, but not end movement on, unavailable cells (including enemy cells). Some characters have this already, but having it for your entire team opens up new ways to out maneuver your foes. A big advantage on maps where you must reach a specific location to win.
|Gain stealth for the first three turns
|Stealth lasts until you attack, are adjacent to an enemy, or the end of your third action. This gives lots of scope to prep/buff the team and ambush foes. When revealed from stealth, the enemy does not get to retaliate. A big advantage on maps where you must reach a specific location to win.
|Flanking gives +100% crit rate & apply fear
|Flanking seems to occur if there are 2+ characters adjacent to the enemy. 100% crit is a big damage increase against bosses. Against regular enemies, should the damage not kill them outright, fear makes them flee for their next turn.
|When attacked resist 1 damage per buff
|Skills that apply buffs are common, so this relic often results in 2-3 armor for the entire party. This makes a big difference to surviving bosses.
|Killing an enemy recovers 30% max health
|Some fights an turn into battles of attrition. This relic is especially useful for Ninelie who do not have the armor of Bronion or the auto-healing of Evernight.
|Convert 20% max health into armor
|As armor provides damage mitigation, this makes you no worse off when attacked. If you are attacked more than once, the extra armor is better. The one weakness is fixed damage effects like thorns. Good for Bronion who get bonuses based on armor.
|+2 attack and can berserk
|Two extra attack for the entire party is a big damage boost. Berserk characters get a further damage boost. It was rare that I had characters go berserk at bad times and then die, so I think the benefits are worth the risk of loosing control of a character.
|Random debuff to enemies on odd turns
|Each enemy can end up with a different debuff. While some debuffs have little effect (reduced crit chance), some can cripple a coordinated attack against you (immobilize or -1 attack range: both stop melee enemies from attacking).
|Ignore 8 armor when attacking
|Enemies on longer quests, and some bosses, can be very tough with high armor (I’ve seen enemies with 10 armor). Against such high armor you can get stuck doing zero damage. This relic lets you ignore almost all enemy armor.
|Summon meteor on battle start against furthest enemy
|Often the furthest enemy includes archers and healers/support who can be difficult to reach in melee. Meteor can kill these outright. Against some bosses, the flames left behind can be a bother.
|When an enemy dies deal 4 damage to the nearest enemy
|At the start of quests 4 damage is enough to kill some foes, later in quests it guarantees finishing off enemies. Bone Spear can chain, triggering on the death of enemies hit by bone spear. I’ve have 5+ weak enemies go own in a single cascade.
|Passing with a character give a character another action
|The text says ‘stationary’ but it seems to also require a character does not attack. It is fairly common that a character might not be able to act, so having this turn into another action is useful. Which character gets the bonus action seems to be chosen randomly from those characters who have already acted.
|+30% Crit rate
|Increased crit rate raises your overall damage an is especially useful against bosses. Crit damage goes up with regular damage, so there is good synergy from raising both.
|+50% Crit damage
|Increased crit damage is especially useful against bosses. I tend to choose crit rate (Wine Goblet) over crit damage (Amulet). Another reliable way to raise crit chance is via items purchased at the merchant.
|+50% coin from battle
|More coins > more shopping > more items > more boosts. Golden Hand could be A tier, but several times it left me with more money than I was able to spend. This is because some maps do not have a merchant, and merchants only have 3 items in stock by default.
|When attacking an enemy +1 damage per debuff on enemy
|Similar to White Moon, but I found it harder to get debuffs on enemies and easier to get buffs on allies. So Black Sun was less powerful.
|Killing an enemy grants enlarge
|Enlarge gives a character a bonus to attack and range (even the melee characters) and HP. Of these, the attack range is most useful, preventing enemies from counter attacking.
|When attacked apply poison
|This is the most reliable way to apply poison to enemies. But it is often a better strategy to avoid being attacked. Hence, I would prefer not to need this relic. Could work well with Evernight’s clan healing ability, but you would have to calculate incoming damage carefully.
|Attacking applies burn
|This is the most reliable way to apply burn to enemies. Burn ignores armor and has several other relics with synergies.
|Enemies take double damage on their turn
|‘Damage on their turn’ includes retaliation, poison, burning, bleed, and some Evernight auras. I initially underestimated the Shield. But there are lots of possible synergies. It also changes one of my least favorite boss fights into one of my most favorite boss fights.
|Double burn and bleed damage to enemies
|Good if you can inflict burn and bleed consistently. Excellent if you already have Flame Sword. Incredible if you also have the Treasured Shield.
|Enemies under 20% HP die after action
|The enemies still get to act before they die. This can work well when your retaliation leaves an enemy on low enough health to die to Hellbringer. But it can work against you: a dead enemy creates space for a second melee attacker to strike without suffering retaliation.
|Priest attacks apply debuffs
|Debuffs are effective, even random ones. You will want 2+ priests to make this more worthwhile than other choices and I did not always have Priests in my party.
|Warriors get bonus damage 30% of missing health
|Bonus damage effects other damage sources, not just attack. I had warriors in most parties. Useless for Evernight because of their clan healing ability, much better for Ninelie where it compounds with berserk.
|Guards 40% chance to stun
|Guards seldom kill enemies on the first hit, so you will often have a chance to stun. The probability is too low to rely on, but it is useful every time it happens.
|All enemies take 1 damage each turn
|Like healing 1 HP with the Grass Stove, 1 damage a turn is only useful in longer fights. Also works well with the Rainbow Clothes or as a way to activate abilities that give bonus damage on enemies who are not at full health.
|Heal 1 HP on turn start
|1 HP is less useful than it first appears, thought it can make a difference in longer fights. Potential synergy with Frog Carving, but there are better synergies.
|+1 max HP on over-healing
|Increasing max HP also increases current HP. One extra max HP makes little difference. However, some abilities get stronger with max HP, making this worthwhile. As Bronion, or during Endless Mode, you can buy Healing Stones. 2+ Healing Stones makes this much more useful.
|First death per battle, spend 50 coin to revive
|Regular battles give 30 coin and elite battles give 60 coin. So it is not a massive amount of money. Very useful when playing Endless Mode / Desperate Journey as reviving is limited.
|If characters attack while alone, +20% crit rate, +20% dodge
|Quite a few maps start with your party spread out. In these cases, it is a nice buff for everyone. But when the party starts gathered together, only the first character to charge is likely to get this benefit.
|Allies buffed on even turns
|These buffs last 2 turns, so you are continuously buffed. Buffs are useful, but given that many characters can chose abilities that buff allies in range 2, I seldom chose to receive random buffs.
|Immune to poison, bleed, and burn
|The most common source of these status effects is dangerous terrain (spikes, vines, lava) not enemies. So in most cases you can avoid these. However, when enemies inflict status effects on attack, this can be a life saver as attack damage + status damage can easily be lethal.
|When attacking have 50% chance to immobilize
|Useful if you have lots of ranged units. But immobilizing an enemy who is already adjacent to you is much less useful.
|Colossus of Steel Gall
|Summon Colossus on turn 5
|This is only unlocked after finishing all three campaigns. The summon is awesome: 10 attack, 100 HP. However, most fights ended before reaching turn 5.
|Spawn mirror image that transfers damage to 3 random enemies
|The mirror image spawns next to one of your characters and disappears after one attack. This is most effective if one character has a high attack – a single action can hit three enemies.
|Lowest HP ally gets +50% dodge
|With this relic, standing in grass makes you almost impossible to hit. However, I don’t think you can dodge retaliation – so this will limit your options to attack. Also ineffective against bosses with area attacks.
|After attack, if scouts don’t kill can move two cells
|Hit-and-run tactics will keep your scouts alive for longer. However, enemies still get to retaliate before your scouts move away. Has potential against bosses where moving a character away makes space for another melee attacker.
|Enemies can not dodge
|It can be reassuring to know that you will always hit your enemies. But it was rare that I missed very often. So, I seldom felt the need for this.
|Strong summons get 2 additional skills
|Strong summons are permanent summons – they last the whole battle. The main source of these is Ninelie priests. Probably not worthwhile unless you have 2+ priests.
|Spawn a ballista on battle start
|Ballista have 0 movement and a range of 2-5 in a straight line. Unless the Ballista spawns in the perfect position, it may not shoot at a single enemy all battle.
|Food and tactics 30% cheaper + extended duration
|I made minimal use of food or tactics, hence this relic as less useful. The more use you make of them, the better this will be for you.
|Characters explode on death 12 damage to adjacent enemies
|Given the limits on reviving, I don’t like abilities that require characters to die. Does not work on limited-time summons. But this can be useful for boss fights where some deaths are expected, and with Ninelie: their priests summon animals and you can hire more.
|50% chance to survive lethal damage on 1 HP
|I prefer relics that prevent taking lethal damage. This relic is most useful in Endless Mode / Desperate Journey where reviving is limited and the number of boss fights means some deaths are unavoidable.
|Auto revise after boss battle (does not work in endless mode)
|Having some characters die during a boss battle is common. If you leave healing springs unused before the boss, then you can heal before moving to the next map. If you don’t do this, or prefer not to, then the Hades Statue will help.
|Enemies in grass take 5 damage and Poison
|Often terrain has the same effect for both you and the enemy. Having grass be only helpful is nice. Note that some regions have no grass (for example, the snow city regions).
|Spawn lightning on two enemy cells each turn
|Lightning does random damage (2-18?). As enemies move most turns, they often move off the cell that spawned lightning. So this seldom hits its target. Could work well with a stealth build – enemies don’t move if all characters are in stealth.
|Not attacking heals 2 hp and gives iron wall
|In battle I prefer to attack and defeat enemies, rather than retreat and heal. But some battles give a gap between waves or while repositioning. This relic works well during those pauses.
|Energy core (+2 HP, +1 damage, +1 move) spawn at start
|The core appears adjacent to one of your characters so it is easy to pick up. The main downside is that I often want to do more with my characters than move 1 cell to pick up the energy core.
|If party does not move +1 range
|The only time I recall this triggering for me was when the entire party remained stationary. It is rare to have a turn when no one moves. Probably most useful with Rainbow Clothes where you can afford to spend a whole turn stationary and invisible.
|At battle start, build arrow tower (+1 range) on archer cell
|This is only useful for battles where your archers do not need to move. Even in battles where you can fight defensively, your archers are unlikely to remain stationary on the tower.
|Breakthrough gives 30% chance of new bloodline
|Breakthrough involves unlocking a sixth ability. However, I never had this trigger. This might effect two characters on a long quest if you are lucky. You may need to unlock lots of the bloodlines from the home base for this to be useful.
|Double effect of grass, flames, berry, idol, thorns, and thundercloud
|Enemies also get the beneficial effects of this relic. It is very frustrating fighting enemies who are hiding in grass with double-dodge.
|Wraith spawn in empty starting cells
|When I used it wraiths spawned on all unoccupied starting cells. However, the wraiths were uncontrollable and mostly a minor distraction. The extra clutter can also be dangerous – blocking cells and triggering enemy abilities.
|Spawn 5 berry on battle start
|Berries can be used by you or the enemies. Often moving onto berries to heal = fewer characters fighting = fewer enemies killed = more incoming damage. So I never found this useful.
|Explosion for 8 damage if kill enemy from full HP
|For this to be useful you need to kill enemies from full health and the enemies need to be clumped together. I would only consider this on the shorter quests – on longer quests, enemies often have too much health to kill in one blow.
|Odd turns spawn grass, even turns grass becomes scarecrow
|The grass is spawned randomly – so it may be in a useless location. Scarecrows do 2-3 damage and have 2-3 health. The best use I found for scarecrows was to stand them next to enemies (without attacking) so the enemy will attack them instead of one of your characters.
|Deflection sends damage back to enemy
|Deflection seems to be a rare mechanic. I only recall seeing one ability that could cause deflect. Hence, I never took this because I had no idea how to trigger deflection.
|Lowest HP hero teleports enemy to highest HP hero
|This ability felt chaotic. Which character has the lowest or highest HP can change during a battle. Teleporting enemies can rearrange the battle field in unexpected ways. Requires very deliberate planning to use well.
|Copy an enemy without traits
|This gives you another unit that can be used for soaking damage or blocking enemies. Does not work against bosses.
|If all 5 classes in battle, characters gain a random trait for that battle
|As Potato’s guide (All Unit Traits Glossary) makes clear, random traits can mess up your build/strategy. It is easy to forget to check what random traits were generated, and having all five classes in a battle often did not happen.
|+50 coin per allied character than died in battle
|Given the limits on reviving characters, this is not a reliable way to earn money. On some longer quests I could not spend all my coin. Probably only feasible using a Priest-summon Ninelie team.
|Dying heals allies 50% max HP
|Given the limits on reviving characters, I want to avoid needing this healing. In a boss fight I would focus on damage over healing. If you are deliberate about sharing damage between characters then the healing could make a difference.